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What we know about George Lucas' art collection and what we'll see in his museum

After Tuesday’s announcement that L.A.’s Exposition Park would become home to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “People will visit from around the world to see the original Darth Vader mask and Norman Rockwell paintings.”

But what else from filmmaker George Lucas’ 40,000-piece art collection will fill the 275,000-square-foot museum?

In August, Charles Desmarais, art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, took a guided tour  of more than 700 pictorial reproductions of pieces from Lucas’ stash. Known as the Seed Collection, they’ll be among the museum’s first offerings, which Desmarais called “a study in contrasts.”

Beyond that, not much else is known about the museum’s attractions. Visiting the official Lucas Museum website, however, gives an overarching, if overwhelming, view of how the institution categorizes pieces in its collection and what visitors can expect in a museum dedicated to “narrative art.”

As explained on the museum’s website, narrative art “tells a story. It uses the power of the visual image to ignite imaginations, evoke emotions and capture universal cultural truths and aspirations.” The museum divvies up its collection into three categories: “The History of Narrative Art,” “The Art of Cinema” and “Digital Art.”

Within “The History of Narrative Art,” visitors will be privy to more traditional works of fine art, including paintings by Edgar Degas and Winslow Homer, along with several pieces from Lucas’ expansive Rockwell collection.

“History” also includes selections of “low art,” such as the illustrations of Robert Crumb and comic strips from cartoonists Al Capp (“Li’l Abner”) and Charles Schultz (“Peanuts”), and several Mad magazine covers.

The Lucas Seed Collection also contains a wide variety of illustrations from classic children’s books, including Jean de Brunhoff’s “Babar,” Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and E.H. Shepard’s original “Winnie-the-Pooh” watercolors.

The “Art of Cinema” section appears to hold the bulk of what the public might expect to find in a facility founded by the legendary director.

Moving beyond the expected “Star Wars” sets and props,  it examines the cinematic design behind Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 classic “Battleship Potemkin” and the visual effects of Georges Méliès’ 1902 film “Le Voyage dans la Lune.”

With its look into the world of “Digital Art,” the museum examines how technology has revolutionized the modern conception of art, be it through the animation used by Pixar and Dreamworks or the visual effects employed in “Jurassic Park” and “Avatar." The Seed Collection also dissects how the digital revolution has affected the worlds of fine art, sculpture and architecture.

In a statement Tuesday, the museum’s board said it chose Los Angeles because it would “have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging and educating a broad and diverse visitorship.”

Looking at its offerings, it appears that the Lucas Museum will be well equipped to offer a little something for everyone in the diverse visitorship the board seeks.

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